OUR BLOG

LEADERSHIP

To Grow Your Professional Service Firm, Prize Culture Over Strategy
TP35: The One Tipping Point Mid-Size Service Firms Must Address To Keep Growing
Seven Reasons Most Mid-Size Service Firms Don’t Grow Very Much
Five Reasons Mid-Size Service Firms Need A New Leadership Operating Model
How Leaders Can Address The Growth Tipping Point For Mid-Sized Service Firms
Five Reasons Professional Service Leaders Should Prize EQ Over IQ
Why Mid-Size Service Firm Leadership Teams Need Collective Objectives To Grow
How To Grow Your Mid-Sized Service Firm: Jealously Protect Your Focused Energy
Why Professional Service Firms Should Consider Circle Of Seven Mentoring Networks
How A Leader’s Energy Field Impacts Team Productivity
Don’t Trade Misery For Money: How Professional Service Firms Can Leverage The Great Resignation
Strong Personality Vs. Strong Person: The Makeup Of A Leadership Council
Custer Or Marshall: Why Mid-Size Service Firms Must Choose Their Leadership Model
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Define And Defend Your Values
If You Want To Grow Your Mid-Size Service Firm, Establish A Formal Leadership Council
Want To Grow Your Professional Service Firm? Focus On The One
If You Want To Grow Your Midsize Professional Service Firm, Align Your Leaders
Why Midsize Service Firm Leaders Must Think Like Entrepreneurs To Grow
How To Grow A Mid-Size Professional Service Firm Today
Why It's Important For Great Leaders To Tell Great Stories
How Great Leaders Persuade Using Word-Pictures
How The Say-Do Ratio Influences Trusted Advisor Status And Profits
Why Service Firm Leaders Should Nurture The Entrepreneurial Instincts Of Their Top People

SALES

Five Strategies For Midsize Service Firms To Break Through Revenue Plateaus
How Pro Service Firms Can Fix The ‘Drop Everything — Chase Money’ Problem
Prospect, Originate, Navigate: How To Fill Your Professional Service Pipeline
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Think Carefully About Your Promise
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 7
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 6
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 5
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 4
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 3
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 2
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 1
How Mid-Size Service Firms Can Acquire Great New Clients On LinkedIn
Five Ways The Consultative Sale Improves Profits
How To Win The Complex Service Sale Consistently
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
How To Break The Grip Of Rainmaker Culture
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
How To Know When Prospects Are Ready
How To Pull Prospects Into Conversations
Nurture Organic Relationships Online
How To Build Relationships With Jaded Prospects
Do Prospects Want To Buy Or Be Sold?
Close Deals Faster Using Proof Statements
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?
Most Leads Are Not Ready To Engage – But They Will Be

MARKETING

How To Market Managed Services - Part 3
How To Market Managed Services - Part 2
How To Market Managed Services Today – Part 1
Why Service Firms Need A Multichannel Digital Marketing Strategy
Does Your Website Attract Ideal Clients?
Why Service Firms Need The Ultimate Digital Marketing Stack
The Myth Of The Time-Starved Service Buyer
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
Why You Need A Generous Brand
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
Are You Measuring Your Time Funnel?
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Five Digital Marketing KPIs
Can Service Pros Over 40 Succeed In Digital?
Do Your Users Experience Content Regret?
Content Registrations Are Not Enough
Is Your Website Open For Business
How To Build A Great Digital Marketing Plan
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
The Value Of An Idea Driven Website
A New Website Won’t Bring You New Clients
Do You “Get” Digital Marketing? – Part 2
Do You Get Digital Marketing?
Who Benefits From Your Content?
Lead Nurturing Versus Content Marketing
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Make Your Website A New Client Driver
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
How To Get The Greatest Value From Content Marketing
Why You Should Absolutely Give Away Your Best Ideas
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
How To Nurture Ideal Prospects
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?

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PROFESSIONAL SERVICES INSIGHTS

WINNING STRATEGIES TO CONSISTENTLY GROW MID-SIZE SERVICE FIRMS

TO GROW YOUR PROFESSIONAL SERVICE FIRM, PRIZE CULTURE OVER STRATEGY

HOW CULTURE GETS IN THE WAY OF STRATEGY

There is a great quote that is often attributed to Peter Drucker, the famous management consultant. “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” Now I don’t know if Drucker actually said that or not. But I love the quote because it has proven to be true time and time again across the clients I’ve coached for the last 25 years. Let me explain why I say this.

Virtually every service firm I’ve coached has operated on the assumption that they need better strategy. After working closely with leadership teams at more than 70 mid-sized service firms, it has become crystal clear to me that strategy and intelligence are not the problem and not the key to unlocking your growth potential. Not one leadership team I coached had dummies at the top. Their people have earned PhDs, JDs, MBAs, advanced engineering degrees and hold more certifications than I could name. Intelligence and strategy are not the solution.

TP35: THE ONE TIPPING POINT MID-SIZE SERVICE FIRMS MUST ADDRESS TO KEEP GROWING

HOW YOU MANAGE TP35 WILL PROBABLY DETERMINE IF YOU BREAK THROUGH TO YOUR NEXT LEVEL OR NOT

Tipping points have been described as a moment of rapid change, when people’s behavior mysteriously shifts in a new direction for reasons that are hard to explain. Every service firm I’ve coached over the last 25 years has experienced tipping points. Most produce positive outcomes. But there is one tipping point I’ve seen that can become a huge barrier to growth if it is not anticipated and addressed intentionally.

Most mid-size service firms can grow consistently and often what feels like effortlessly up to a point. Usually, in my experience, something changes about the time they hire their 35th employee. I’ve come to call this TP35 (Tipping Point 35). Once an organization hits TP35, an almost imperceptible shift takes place and it becomes more debilitating with time. 

SEVEN REASONS MOST MID-SIZE SERVICE FIRMS DON’T GROW VERY MUCH

AVOID THESE MISTAKES TO BREAK THROUGH TO YOUR NEXT LEVEL

Leaders of mid-sized service firms with 25-100 staff often tell me that they want to grow their business. Yet, year-after-year, most mid-sized service firms actually grow very little. What do I mean by growth? This is about meaningful increases in revenue, EBITDA, client acquisition, geographic expansion, new service lines and even, for some firms, headcount. Meaningful growth is usually measured in percentages, where revenue, for instance, increases by 10%-20% annually rather than merely 3%-7%.

I’ve completed an analysis of the growth arc of more than 70 mid-sized service firms I’ve coached. A handful of these firms broke through to their next level, being acquired or transitioning ownership internally. These stakeholders did very well. The other organizations were okay, but they didn’t break through. They had growth spurts here and there, but not sustained growth year-over-year. What accounts for the differences? This is 100% a result of their leadership operating model.

FIVE REASONS MID-SIZE SERVICE FIRMS NEED A NEW LEADERSHIP OPERATING MODEL

LESSONS LEARNED FROM 25 YEARS OF COACHING SERVICE FIRM LEADERS

Over the last 25 years, I’ve coached leaders at more than 70 mid-sized service firms, those with 25-100 staff. A top goal for all of these leaders has been to grow revenues, profits, clients, headcount, geographies and service lines. But as they’re growing their businesses, they’re also trying to raise families, maintain a healthy marriage, stay connected to aging parents and keep long-term friendships vital. They also want to enjoy the fruits of their labors and take a vacation now and then.

Almost every leader I’ve coached has come to a crossroads at some point on their journey. They feel like they have to choose between growing their business or having a good quality of life with those they love. They suspect that they cannot achieve both at the same time. I’ve come to believe that’s a false choice. You can grow your business and have a great quality of life. But to do this, you’ll need to upgrade your leadership operating model.

HOW LEADERS CAN ADDRESS THE GROWTH TIPPING POINT FOR MID-SIZED SERVICE FIRMS

TIPPING POINT 35 IS VERY REAL: HERE’S WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT

Growing a mid-sized professional service firm, those with 25 to 100 staff, usually comes in spurts and stops, like a growing teenager. Growth spurts are very common for smaller firms that can add employees quickly, up to a point. The stops are akin to a teenager who eats like they have a hollow leg, but without getting taller. Then, all of a sudden, they shoot up two or three inches.

Most service firms I’ve coached over the years have gone through these cycles. They’ll rapidly grow revenues, headcount and service lines for a while. But then, mysteriously and usually for reasons the leadership simply cannot put their finger on, growth stalls.

After reflecting on more than 70 mid-sized professional service firms I’ve served, and after analyzing their growth trajectory and history of stops and starts, I’ve come to recognize a root cause for growth stall-outs. I call it TP35—or tipping point 35. Tipping point 35 usually happens around the time a service firm hires its 35th employee.

FIVE REASONS PROFESSIONAL SERVICE LEADERS SHOULD PRIZE EQ OVER IQ

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IS ESSENTIAL TO SERVICE FIRM GROWTH

Have you ever heard the saying, most people make decisions based on emotion and use logic to justify them? I won’t say I’ve found this to be absolutely true in my 25 years of coaching mid-sized professional service firms. But I would say that I’ve yet to meet a completely rational person, the kind who never allows emotion to sway their decisions, words and actions. If that unicorn exists, I’ve never met them.

This is particularly true among leaders of service firms. I’ve coached hundreds of professional service leaders and they all share one common trait: passion. They’re passionate about what they want to accomplish in business. They’re usually driven, strong-willed and deeply committed to their goals. They don’t quit when things get tough because they’re resolved. They inspire people around them with their tenacity.

WHY MID-SIZE SERVICE FIRM LEADERSHIP TEAMS NEED COLLECTIVE OBJECTIVES TO GROW

ANNUAL STRATEGIC PLANNING USUALLY DOESN’T PRODUCE MEANINGFUL YEAR-OVER-YEAR GROWTH

Annual strategic planning for professional service firms is standard practice. But in my experience, after coaching more than 70 mid-sized professional service firms, it doesn’t work very well. The problem is that it rarely produces meaningful growth. It becomes a hamster wheel that service firms run on, full-well knowing that they’re not moving forward toward the goals that really matter.

If your service organization has struggled to grow, it could very well be that the problem is not your people, your commitment or even your resources (time, money, staff). The real problem could be your approach. If your organization really wants to grow, I’d like to recommend that you scrap annual strategic planning and instead adopt collective objectives. I’ve found this to be a far superior approach to solving hard business problems that yield real growth.

HOW TO GROW YOUR MID-SIZED SERVICE FIRM: JEALOUSLY PROTECT YOUR FOCUSED ENERGY

ENERGY, NOT TIME, IS WHAT PROPELS YOUR BUSINESS TO YOUR NEXT LEVEL

Growing a mid-sized professional service firm is a big challenge. For over 20 years, I’ve worked with more than 70 leadership teams at mid-sized service firms. In that time, I’ve consistently encountered a situation that prevents leaders from achieving their goals. They are not highly protective—even jealous—of their focused energy.

You may not be familiar with this concept, so please allow me to explain. Focused energy is about time. Most of us have a certain time of the day, or even the month, when our minds are sharp, our thinking is clear, our bodies feel good and our brains just seem to work effortlessly. This is the time we are most likely to have epiphanies—when solutions just pop right into our brains—even after having thought about a particular problem for days, weeks or months on end. That is my definition of focused energy.

WHY PROFESSIONAL SERVICE FIRMS SHOULD CONSIDER CIRCLE OF SEVEN MENTORING NETWORKS

RETAIN TALENT. ENHANCE MORALE. INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY & PROFITS FROM THE SAME SIZE TEAM

For the last 25 years, I’ve been privileged to coach more than 70 mid-sized service firms with 25-100 staff members and $10-$50 million in revenue. One thing I’ve noticed is that the leaders of these firms are often in their fifties and sixties while the employees are often in their twenties and thirties. This actually creates a problem. In most instances, the staff outnumber the leaders 15 to one. In other words, there is 1 mature leader, on average, for every 15 employees.

Herein lies the problem: Most young people want to advance in their careers and want opportunities to grow, take on new projects and gain experience. But this is usually best achieved under the guidance and mentorship of mature leaders.

HOW A LEADER’S ENERGY FIELD IMPACTS TEAM PRODUCTIVITY

AN ENERGY FIELD IS WHAT IT FEELS LIKE TO BE AROUND A LEADER

A professional service team’s performance is usually a reflection of the team leader’s energy field. Over the years, in coaching hundreds of service teams, I’ve noticed that every team leader projects a unique energy field. No two leaders have ever had the same one. In my experience, a leader’s energy field is the number one factor that determines team performance.

An energy field, simply put, is what it feels like to be around that leader. It’s invisible, like a forcefield, but it’s incredibly powerful. If you want to increase your team’s performance and productivity, I recommend that you enhance your energy field. What’s the link between a leader’s energy field and team productivity? In a word—trust.

DON’T TRADE MISERY FOR MONEY: HOW PROFESSIONAL SERVICE FIRMS CAN LEVERAGE THE GREAT RESIGNATION

ATTRACT TALENT-IN-TRANSITION WITH THE FIVE THINGS THEY CARE ABOUT TODAY

There is a tradeoff that today’s professional service workers no longer seem to be willing to make: trading misery for money. For decades I’ve worked with service firm leadership teams. Up until this era of the Great Resignation, these teams have operated on an implicit assumption that sounds something like this: Most workers will tolerate a high degree of dissatisfaction because they’re earning a good income. I believe this is no longer true, and that’s good news.

In my 25 years of coaching professional service leadership teams, I have never seen a time when there was a greater disconnect between what leaders believe employees want and what employees actually want. While I do believe that the pandemic foregrounded some of these differences, the gap was actually growing before the pandemic hit. I believe the pandemic simply accelerated trends I was already seeing play out in real time.

STRONG PERSONALITY VS. STRONG PERSON: THE MAKEUP OF A LEADERSHIP COUNCIL

HOW TO PICK THE RIGHT BALANCE OF PERSONALITIES

As leaders of mid-size professional service firms begin to form leadership councils, they often ask me, “What type of person should be on our council?” That is a very important question. Most mid-size service firms have 50 or more staff members to choose from. So they usually have plenty of options, given that my advice is to have around seven people on the council.

I usually list several criteria for who to invite onto the council, having to do with tenure, position, responsibility and institutional knowledge. But there is another criterion I’ve started to recommend, after having formed numerous leadership councils. One factor I’ve seen determine the effectiveness of these councils is the blend of personality types who end up in the room. Personality blend often determines how effective the council actually is for the business.

CUSTER OR MARSHALL: WHY MID-SIZE SERVICE FIRMS MUST CHOOSE THEIR LEADERSHIP MODEL

HOW YOUR LEADERSHIP TENDENCIES IMPACT YOUR OUTCOMES

George Custer was an American military general known for dashing action. During the Civil War, he earned the admiration of his peers because of his bravery and willingness to take risks. George Marshall was an American military general known for being methodical, thoughtful and disciplined. After WWII, he earned the respect of the entire world, and particularly of Europeans, because of the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt major portions of European infrastructure.

TO GROW YOUR MID-SIZE PROFESSIONAL SERVICE FIRM, DEFINE AND DEFEND YOUR VALUES

HOW VALUES STIMULATE GROWTH

I’d like to tell you the story of two employees who worked for different service providers. Both organizations are well-known and I won’t reveal their names. One of these organizations is in free-fall, with more stink on their brand than they know how to handle. The other organization is thriving, even during a pandemic.

Here is my lesson learned from these two employees. Service-based organizations that clearly define, defend and live out their values put themselves in a position to grow, earning the respect and loyalty of their employees and clients. Those who don’t often reap the whirlwind. Let me explain.

IF YOU WANT TO GROW YOUR MID-SIZE SERVICE FIRM, ESTABLISH A FORMAL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL

COULD THIS BE THE MISSING PIECE OF THE PUZZLE FOR YOUR FIRM?

For any mid-size professional service firm to grow, thousands of decisions must be made. These decisions will be across all departments and on more issues and topics than I can possibly name in this article. No one, two or even 10 people can make all these decisions. It takes a community. If you want to unleash your growth potential, create a formal leadership council, give them guiding parameters and empower them with decision rights.

Most of the 70-plus mid-size service firms I’ve consulted with over the last 25 years have between 30 and 100 staff. This is more than enough people to make all of those decisions. But this rarely happens. Why? I see two primary reasons, both of which are rooted in the mindset of the principals.

WANT TO GROW YOUR PROFESSIONAL SERVICE FIRM? FOCUS ON THE ONE

THERE IS ONLY ONE THING EVERY DAY THAT MUST GET DONE

One of the biggest challenges with running a professional service firm is lack of time. I see this over and over again from busy leaders who just don’t have enough hours in the day to do everything that is on their task lists. While this can be incredibly frustrating, there are solutions.

After many years of working with and coaching leaders of professional service firms in numerous verticals (financial services, engineering, coaching, management consulting and IT consulting, to name just a few), I’ve learned a lot of lessons about what works and what doesn’t work to produce growth. Here is my singular observation. Focus, not time, is the real culprit.

FIVE STRATEGIES FOR MIDSIZE SERVICE FIRMS TO BREAK THROUGH REVENUE PLATEAUS

WHY YOU NEED SPECIFIC GROWTH TARGETS

Over the years of working with midsize professional service firms, I’ve encountered the same issue several times. I call it the plateau. This often occurs after a firm has been in business for a few years. At some point, the firm hits a ceiling in terms of revenue growth that they can’t seem to break through, no matter what they do.

This is perplexing to leadership. From what we’ve seen, organizations that hit a plateau usually have between 20-100 staff and several million dollars in revenue. They’ve been in business for five years or longer and have grown every year — until they hit the ceiling.

HOW PRO SERVICE FIRMS CAN FIX THE ‘DROP EVERYTHING — CHASE MONEY’ PROBLEM

HERE IS A MUCH BETTER WAY TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS

Many professional service firms have an all-too-common problem. It’s hard to originate new business, which often leads to feast-or-famine cycles. So when a deal percolates up through the channels, senior people are ready to drop everything to win that business. I call this the “Drop Everything — Chase Money” (DECM) problem. This is usually the single biggest interruption to business operations I’ve witnessed over the last 25 years. It’s also an ineffective sales strategy.

You might say to me, “But isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Isn’t this a good problem to have?” I don’t think so. Many organizations, especially those with complex B2B sales cycles, have become so acclimated to this way of doing business that they aren’t even aware that there are other options. Please allow me to explain why DECM is such a problem and how you can take a different and far better approach to originate and win new business.

PROSPECT, ORIGINATE, NAVIGATE: HOW TO FILL YOUR PROFESSIONAL SERVICE PIPELINE

WHY YOU MUST MASTER THESE THREE PHASES OF THE SALES FUNNEL

For 25 years now, I’ve been privileged to work with dozens of mid-size professional service firms. In nearly every instance, the leadership teams guiding these companies have one overarching goal: to break through plateaus that hold them back so they can accelerate toward their next level.

As I began consulting with these organizations, I’d hear a phrase over and over again: “We need to improve sales and marketing.” On one hand, this makes sense. If you want to achieve outstanding results, you need high-performing sales and marketing teams. But on the other hand, it hides a blindspot that is so significant, it decreases the likelihood of achieving next-level results.

TO GROW YOUR MID-SIZE PROFESSIONAL SERVICE FIRM, THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT YOUR PROMISE

WHY A “PROMISE OF OUTCOMES” IS ESSENTIAL

I have said for many years now that the nature of selling professional services is all about promise. Because services are intangibles, clients sign agreements and begin paying money without taking possession of something physical that they can look at or hold in their hands. Think about that for a moment. What other business model can you identify where you pay for something and get nothing (at least, physically) in return? It almost sounds ridiculous.

Yet, for professional service providers, that’s exactly how our business models work, in most instances. We engage in dialogue with prospective clients. We conduct due diligence and discovery. We develop a scope of services. We convert the scope to an agreement, and we ask clients to start paying us money. What do they get in return?

IF YOU WANT TO GROW YOUR MIDSIZE PROFESSIONAL SERVICE FIRM, ALIGN YOUR LEADERS

THIS COULD BE JUST WHAT YOU NEED TO ACHIEVE YOUR NEXT BIG BREAK-THROUGH

When I started my business in 1998, we had one mission. We wanted to be the best marketing firm on the planet for midsize professional services firms. For 10 years, this mission guided us until it became clear that it wasn’t big enough. That led to mission 2.0: Unite marketing and sales teams around best practices. That produced some huge breakthroughs for clients. But fast forward yet another decade and even that mission was inadequate.

Enter mission 3.0: Align leaders to stimulate next-level growth. In fact, after more than 23 years of serving clients, I have come to believe that this has been the missing ingredient all along.

WHY MIDSIZE SERVICE FIRM LEADERS MUST THINK LIKE ENTREPRENEURS TO GROW

ARE YOU A PROFESSIONAL SERVICES PRACTITIONER OR AN ENTREPRENEUR?

Most successful professional service firms can grow by way of referrals up to a point. Then they hit a plateau. After serving more than 50 midsize service firms over the last 21 years, I’ve discovered that the mindset of the firm’s leadership is the No. 1 factor that determines whether or not the firm will break through revenue plateaus.

If the firm leaders see themselves as practitioner-in-chief, the most important producer of work product for clients, the firm is not likely to break through the plateau. But if the firm leaders see themselves as entrepreneurs, they’ll greatly increase the odds of breaking through. If you are the leader of a successful midsize service firm that has plateaued, I’d like to share with you some ideas for changing your mindset and your personal example so you can reignite growth.

HOW TO GROW A MID-SIZE PROFESSIONAL SERVICE FIRM TODAY

FOCUS ON YOUR PROMISE TO IDEAL CLIENTS

There are thousands of successful mid-size service firms in the United States today and many more thousands around the globe that know they’ve never achieved their full potential. They come from several different industry verticals including accounting, law, technology consulting, financial services, management consulting, coaching, architecture, engineering and construction, among others.

To me, a successful mid-size service firm has been in business five or more years, has $3 million to $30 million in revenue, 15 to 150 staff members and has a demonstrated history of delivering results that matter to clients. After working with several dozen firms who fit this profile, I’ve come to recognize certain traits.

WHY IT’S IMPORTANT FOR GREAT LEADERS TO TELL GREAT STORIES

CREATE RESOLVE AND INSPIRED ACTION FOR PEOPLE ON YOUR TEAM

It’s A Wonderful Life, brought to life by Frank Capra, was a box office flop when released. A now venerated story that has become a holiday classic, inspiring millions to fight through adversity, was originally a financial misfire. Still, It’s A Wonderful Life may not be Capra’s most important film or his greatest contribution to the free world.

During WWII, Capra produced a series of documentary films called Why We Fight. While the U.S. had hundreds of thousands of soldiers going through training to enter World War II, many of them really didn’t understand what was at stake. Capra gave them clarity and resolve, which many soldiers needed in great measure given what they were about to face.

HOW THE SAY-DO RATIO INFLUENCES TRUSTED ADVISOR STATUS AND PROFITS

IF YOU WANT TO BE TRUSTED, EARN A HIGH SAY-DO SCORE

When I was a kid, my dad would say, “Your word is your bond.” He was a scrappy, bare-knuckled contractor who fought for every job. Picture Ernest Hemingway with a hammer.

He worked with small crews in unbearable temperatures to get the work done and done right. He knew his word, and that delivering on his promises would help him earn or lose the next job. After all, people talk, especially in the small community where we lived.

WHY SERVICE FIRM LEADERS SHOULD NURTURE THE ENTREPRENEURIAL INSTINCTS OF THEIR TOP PEOPLE

THIS EMPOWERS YOU TO RETAIN TOP TALENT WHILE ALIGNING THEM TO YOUR VISION

I believe there are two very important reasons professional service firm leaders should nurture, and even actively coach, the entrepreneurial instincts of their top people: retention and alignment.

Retention is about creating an environment where your best and brightest feel inspired to achieve their full potential. Alignment is about coaching your top people to think and act like entrepreneurs, so your interests and their interests align.

HOW TO SELL PROFESSIONAL SERVICES TODAY – PART 7

NAVIGATING THE COMPLEX SALE FOR A 100% CLOSE-RATE

Certain types of service organizations navigate a sale that is complex, long, risky and challenging. If they win the deal, everyone rejoices and rain falls from the sky. If they lose the deal, well let’s just say that makes for a very bad day, potentially a very bad year.

The complex sale is tough. I have known of certain complex sales to last for a year or more. Early in my career, I was involved in a 20-million-dollar deal that took nine months to win. I have seen these types of deals create chaos, stress and anxiety. I’ve seen the complex sale make or break careers. Without a doubt, the complex sale is risky.

HOW TO SELL PROFESSIONAL SERVICES TODAY – PART 6

THE FIVE SALES-READY INDICATORS OF PROFESSIONAL SERVICE BUYERS

The biggest risk to people who carry business development responsibilities is that they’ll waste their time on prospects who will not close. Whether you sell services to businesses or to individuals, your ability to accurately predict a close impacts so many things.

To earn the respect, trust and confidence of the people around you, you need a solid pipeline of deals and a predictive model that works. You need to be able to say, with confidence, when certain deals will close. Then those deals have to close pretty much on the schedule you predict. This is what it takes to have success as a business development leader and as an entrepreneur.

HOW TO SELL PROFESSIONAL SERVICES TODAY – PART 5

BUILDING AN IDEAL CLIENT PROFILE

Selling professional services is ultimately about getting the right people to say yes to your proposal. But this raises an important question. Who are the right people? In my experience, this will vary depending on whether you sell services to businesses or individuals. But here is something that will not vary.

For you to create the triple win, where the client wins, you win and your company wins, you absolutely must have clarity about your ideal client. When service organizations struggle to develop a great pipeline, to win deals or when deals take forever to close, usually the root cause is a problem with their ideal client profile.

HOW TO SELL PROFESSIONAL SERVICES TODAY – PART 4

CONSTITUTING A HIGHLY EFFECTIVE SALES TEAM

One of the biggest challenges for mid-size service firms, when it comes to selling professional services, is that the same people who sell also deliver. These people are constantly torn between the need to develop new business and to satisfy current clients.

If they spend too much time prospecting for new clients, they are concerned current clients will migrate to other providers. If they don’t prospect for new clients, they won’t grow. So what do they do? How do they acquire new clients while also keeping current clients happy? It’s a real conundrum.

HOW TO SELL PROFESSIONAL SERVICES TODAY – PART 3

PROSPECTING TO FILL YOUR PIPELINE

In this thought piece, I want to share with you two key concepts that will help you fill your pipeline with great prospects who deeply desire your services. The approach I recommend accelerates prospects through your funnel when the time is right for them.

I also want to share six guiding principles about how to manage the sales funnel as prospects begin to lean-in. I place the two concepts and the six principles under the larger category of prospecting. This is why prospecting matters.

HOW TO SELL PROFESSIONAL SERVICES TODAY – PART 2

ALIGNING MARKETING, SALES & DELIVERY AROUND THE EQUATION & THE PROMISE

In this thought piece, I want to debunk one of the biggest misconceptions I see today about how to grow revenues and profits for professional service firms. The misconception goes like this: the marketing function generates leads, the sales or business development function closes leads and the delivery function delivers the work-product. This is a classic assumption about how these teams work together to produce meaningful growth. But it’s dead wrong. It doesn’t work.

HOW TO SELL PROFESSIONAL SERVICES TODAY – PART 1

WINNING WITH INTEGRITY

I want to ask you a question. When I use the term “sales person” what image comes to mind for you? Do you think of a slick huckster who will do or say anything to close a deal? Do you think of someone who lacks integrity and is prone to lying or at least over-promising? Do you envision someone who is not trustworthy and is maybe lacking in scruples?

This is not at all how I think of sales or of selling, especially for professional services. I believe the exact opposite is true. The best sales or business development people I’ve known over the years have very high integrity, are completely trustworthy and hold the respect and admiration of everyone around them. They are great people as well as great sellers.

HOW TO MARKET MANAGED SERVICES – PART 3

BUILDING AND EXECUTING THE OUTBOUND PLAN

In my last article on this topic, I outlined ten digital marketing strategies that accelerate the growth of managed services revenue. Managed services, unlike project-based services, break the feast-or-famine cycle, are usually scalable and stabilize profits. This can lead to EBITDA that is well above industry averages.

My thesis is that digital marketing should front-end the sales cycle of managed services. Great digital marketing builds trust, increases your win-rates and creates buy-in to your approach. Creating buy-in is essential to retaining clients for the long-term, which impact profits.

HOW TO MARKET MANAGED SERVICES – PART 2

DEVELOPING THE BEST STRATEGY

In my first article on this topic, I built the business case for why your firm should adopt managed services and why digital marketing should front-end the sales cycle. I stated that you should set three key goals for your digital marketing efforts: increase your win-rates, create buy-in to your approach and retain clients long-term. This is how you realize EBITDA that is well above industry averages.

But you might be wondering how to use digital marketing to accomplish these goals? Digital marketing can feel very foreign or very familiar, depending on how closely you’ve monitored the trends. Most of us recognize great digital marketing when we see it. Yet we probably don’t understand what went into it.

HOW TO MARKET MANAGED SERVICES TODAY – PART 1

WHY DIGITAL MARKETING SHOULD FRONT-END THE SALES CYCLE

Managed services can be game-changing for professional service firms. Whereas most professional service engagements are one-off projects, managed services are typically based on long-term contracts with repeatable monthly or quarterly invoices.

Managed services deliver a lot of benefits. They break the feast or famine cycle. They’re usually pretty scalable. They allow you to predict operating costs against a defined revenue schedule. They stabilize your profits, allowing you to take a long-term perspective.

HOW MID-SIZE SERVICE FIRMS CAN ACQUIRE GREAT NEW CLIENTS ON LINKEDIN

DON’T MISS THIS OPPORTUNITY

Client acquisition is a top goal for all of our clients and for my firm. I’ll bet it’s one of your top goals too. But if your situation is like many firm leaders today of mid-size service organizations, you don’t just want to acquire clients. You want to acquire the right clients.

I call these ideal clients and they are much better than just any old client. Ideal clients want and need your services. They have budget. They have a presenting issue for which your services are a great fit and a timeline in which they must act. They want a long-term relationship and they’re easy to get along with. They are willing to engage in serious dialogue and even champion a deal for your firm.

WHY SERVICE FIRMS NEED A MULTICHANNEL DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY

THIS IS CRUCIAL TO REALIZING YOUR GROWTH POTENTIAL

I want to ask you a question. How close has your firm come to achieving your growth potential? When you look at the number of clients you are doing business with today versus the number you could be doing business with, how big is that gap? What size of the pie do you own today?

If you are like most leaders of service organizations I speak with, you feel that you’ve only just begun to tap your potential. You recognize that there are far more clients out there you could and should be working with. Does this frustrate you, motivate you or both?

DOES YOUR WEBSITE ATTRACT IDEAL CLIENTS?

HERE IS HOW TO FIX THIS PROBLEM

I visit the websites of professional service firms all the time. In a given week, I might view 50 different websites from service firms in a number of different industries including accounting, law firms, technology consulting, financial services, architecture and others. As I navigate through these websites, I can’t help but ask myself who these sites were built to satisfy?

WHY SERVICE FIRMS NEED THE ULTIMATE DIGITAL MARKETING STACK

GETTING PAST THE HYPE TO WHAT ACTUALLY WORKS

Digital marketing is one of those terms that has become so popular, but so misunderstood. The same could be said of digital disruption. It almost seems that you can take any word these days and put digital in front of it and that’s supposed to make it cool, as if we should all pay attention.

I grew up in the world of analog or traditional marketing where we used a variety of strategies and tactics to put our brands and services in front of prospective clients. I believe many of the same principles apply to digital marketing as applied to analog marketing. Yet, there are definite differences.

FIVE WAYS THE CONSULTATIVE SALE IMPROVES PROFITS

HERE IS HOW TO FOSTER DEEPER CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS

A friend of mine says that we’re judged by the quality of the questions we ask. In professional services consulting, I believe this is very true. I was reminded of this recently when conducting market research for a client. This client is looking for ways to expand their service offerings, increase client impact and, of course, enhance their profits.

To achieve these goals, we are conducting research with their clients to identify a set of unmet needs. During an interview with one of my client’s clients, I heard something very insightful. I asked this person about their experience in working with multiple professional advisors. Here is what they said.

TEN REASONS TO ADOPT MANAGED SERVICES

A BUSINESS CASE FOR MAKING THIS PIVOT

Certain types of service organizations are prone to feast-or-famine cycles, scalability issues and client loyalty challenges. This might be CPA firms who are overwhelmed in tax season. It might be technology consulting firms who see a deluge of demand when a major manufacturer revs their products. This might be management consulting firms who realize tremendous demand when government regulations change.

No matter what type of firm, the challenge remains the same. At certain times their hands are empty and other times they can’t handle all of the work. Usually these firms share a common approach: project-based deals have a start, a delivery cycle and a finish. When the project is done, the team members who served the client are costing you money even though you may not have billable projects for them.

HARD MONEY. FAIR MONEY. EASY MONEY

HOW AN IDEAL CLIENT PROFILE PROTECTS PROFITS

I participated in an advisory board meeting with a client recently. The goal of the advisory board is to bring together service buyers and service providers to foster mutually beneficial relationships. I’m sure it’s no surprise to you that service buyers and service providers see the world in very different ways.

THE MYTH OF THE TIME-STARVED SERVICE BUYER

WHY YOU NEED GREAT LONG-FORM CONTENT

I want to address a myth that is prominent in sales and marketing circles today for professional service firms. The myth is that service-buyers are time-starved and crazy busy, so you must keep things short. The myth goes like this.

Today’s service buyer has no time. They have more options than ever before in terms of service providers. They can’t tell why this service provider is better than that one. So if you want to attract their attention through content marketing, you have to produce short, pithy content.

HOW TO WIN THE COMPLEX SERVICE SALE CONSISTENTLY

KEY TO ACCELERATING YOUR GROWTH

I was talking to an entrepreneur the other day who is in the software development business. His company builds cloud applications and provides professional services to deploy the software. As we were discussing how we do business, I discovered that we shared a similar philosophy regarding RFPs: requests for proposals.

DO YOU CHOOSE CLIENTS OR DO THEY CHOOSE YOU?

HOW TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR GROWTH

I’d like to debunk a myth in this blog-post. The myth is that your best new clients will come from referrals. In fact, many organizations believe that their growth potential is almost universally defined by the size of their referral network.

I think that is wrong and that this approach to growth is typically fraught with challenges. I’m not opposed to referrals. We get these and I also make referrals to my partners. But I’ve noticed a trend over the years.

HOW TO MARKET & SELL PROFESSIONAL SERVICES TODAY

HERE ARE MY BEST IDEAS

I’ve been a professional service marketer and entrepreneur now for nearly 25 years. Over the course of my career I’ve worn many hats. But I’ve always been in the business of growing service firms. Sometimes that means growing brand awareness. Sometimes that means re-positioning brands. Sometimes that means productizing services so they are easier to sell. Sometimes that means coaching sales and business development teams.

HOW TO BREAK THE GRIP OF RAINMAKER CULTURE

THIS IS HOW YOU REALIZE UNLIMITED GROWTH POTENTIAL

Many firm leaders at mid-size service organizations have a big concern. It’s called Rainmaker culture and it goes like this. A few people at their firm have the Midas touch. They can turn to gold anything that they touch. These people make it rain. It’s a good-news bad-news scenario.

The good news is that you have some people who know how to generate and close business. Every company needs that. These people often account for a very large percentage of annual revenue – sometimes more than 80%. Rainmakers are worth their weight in gold. That’s the good news.

WHY YOU NEED A GENEROUS BRAND

GENEROUS BRANDS SUBSTANTIALLY INCREASE REVENUE AND PROFITS

Most service firms are run by people who are experts in their field. Many of our clients have advanced degrees, years of experience and a solid personal reputation. These are really, and I mean really, smart people.

The unique thing about service firms is that we sell the invisible. Services, after all, are intangibles. They’re not concrete or physical. You can’t hold them in your hands or feel the weight of them. There is no reliable buyer’s guide that allows you to compare the features and benefits of service A versus service B or C.

HOW CONTENT IMPACTS THE SERVICE SALE

GOOD CONTENT MARKETING SHAPES CLIENT EXPECTATIONS

Most marketing and sales leaders in service organizations believe that the primary reason to deploy content marketing is to generate leads. The theory goes like this. Give prospects some great ideas to prove you’re an expert and that position you as a trusted advisor.

This is definitely a value that content marketing delivers. But, in my experience, that’s not the complete picture. In fact, lead generation is not a very good reason for deploying content marketing. You might be surprised to hear me say this.

HOW TO KNOW WHEN PROSPECTS ARE READY

USE THESE GUIDELINES

I talk to professional service firm leaders almost daily. They routinely ask me for my advice about when they should engage prospects in dialogue. This can be a real conundrum. Talk to them too early and they ignore you. Talk to them too late and you miss opportunities.

Knowing when to engage in dialogue is challenging. But there is often an even bigger challenge – knowing who to talk to. For business development and sales people, these two questions are of paramount importance: who and when?

HOW TO PULL PROSPECTS INTO CONVERSATIONS

LOOK AT THE WORLD THROUGH THEIR EYES

I want to tell you about an experience I had recently that I bet will sound familiar to you. A friend of mine wanted to introduce me to a new friend of his named Jim. He said I would find Jim interesting. But this introduction came with a caveat.

My friend warned me that Jim knew a lot about two topics: cars and airplanes. I like cars and I’m fascinated by planes and aviation. I’ve even written blog posts about radar systems. So I thought I could learn some things from Jim and maybe even form a new friendship.

NURTURE ORGANIC RELATIONSHIPS ONLINE

THROUGH THE POWER OF CONSISTENCY

A lot of service professionals today have a hunch. They suspect that there are potentially thousands of people and companies out there in the digital ecosystem that they could be doing business with who are not their clients now.

They assume that at least some percentage of those people would be a perfect fit for them. But they struggle with two questions: how do I find these people and how do I build relationships with them? These are tough questions.

HOW TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS WITH JADED PROSPECTS

THIS IS HOW YOU BECOME A TRUSTED ADVISOR

I’ve noticed a trend and I’m wondering how this compares with your experience. Some of the best prospects in the world, the one’s you really want to connect with, are also the most jaded. Call it life experience. Call it having been around the block. Call it defense mechanisms.

DO PROSPECTS WANT TO BUY OR BE SOLD?

THE POWER OF SELF-PERSUASION

I want to ask you a question. Do prospects want to buy or be sold? Do great prospects, especially those in the C-suite, see themselves as being in control? Are they in the driver’s seat? Do they choose how and when to engage with a professional service provider? Are they actively looking for the right solutions to help their organization achieve their goals?

CAN YOU HACK SERVICE FIRM GROWTH?

WHAT IS THE SUREST PATH TO TRUSTED ADVISOR STATUS?

Lately I’ve been receiving strange messages from people who promise that they can help me hack growth for my service company. I’m not entirely sure what this means, but it sounds painful. Most of the hacks I’ve received have been from sports injuries that are still with me all these years later.

ARE YOU MEASURING YOUR TIME FUNNEL?

WHY YOU NEED THIS TO ACQUIRE ORGANIC IDEAL CLIENTS?

I want to talk to you about a funnel. But it’s probably not the kind of funnel you are used to hearing about. You are likely quite familiar with the shape of the traditional sales funnel. It’s very wide on the top and then gradually narrows at the the bottom. But there is another funnel that I think is even more important for acquiring organic ideal clients.

CLOSE DEALS FASTER USING PROOF STATEMENTS

HOW AND WHEN ORGANIC PROSPECTS VIEW THESEY

When I travel through airports, I often read the signs that line the walls. One sign in particular caught my attention recently. It was from a law firm and it said: “lady justice may be blind, but she sees things our way 97% of the time.” Now that is quite a claim. Essentially, they are saying that they win 97% of their cases. That’s impressive.

HOW TO GET MINDSHARE WITH BUSY DECISION-MAKERS

THE VALUE OF A CONTENT MARKETING RUNWAY

I want to ask you a question. How much busier are you today than you were five years ago? Does the pace of business just seem to be picking up? Does it seem as if you have more tasks to accomplish than you have hours in the day? If you are like so many busy professionals today, the answer to all of these questions is yes.

HOW TO GET GREAT PROSPECTS LEANING IN

THIS IS HOW YOU PUT AN END TO MEETING POSTPONEMENTS

I was speaking with a prospect a few days ago about the goals she wanted to accomplish. She said her big goal was to get the right people looking their way and excited about talking to them. She was tired of her consultants having to drag people through the sales funnel.

After I dug a little deeper, I discovered two significant challenges. First, her valuable consultants were spending way too much time with the wrong people. Second, when her consultants finally connected with the right people, they seemed resistant to talk. They didn’t see how spending time with her consultants would benefit them. They often reluctantly agreed to a meeting but then, about half the time, they canceled or postponed the meeting.

HOW DIGITAL MARKETING CREATES SALES FUNNEL VELOCITY

WHEN THE RIGHT PEOPLE ARE READY, THEY MOVE QUICKLY

I was having a conversation with a prospect a few weeks ago. After we spoke for a few minutes and I described how we might help his organization he said the following to me. “Randy if you get me a proposal that outlines everything we talked about for the fees you described, I’ll sign it. Let’s get going.”

FIVE DIGITAL MARKETING KPIS

HOW TO KNOW YOUR DIGITAL MARKETING IS EFFECTIVE

A lot of companies are investing heavily in digital marketing these days, hoping for specific kinds of returns. But what happens when those returns don’t materialize for a long time? CEOs and senior marketing executives have to make choices about what to do next, often difficult choices.

I’ve heard CEO’s lament that they can’t see the results of digital marketing. They wonder if they should keep trying, change tactics or even change marketing leadership. Marketing leaders often struggle with a new digital landscape that feels like foreign territory. The analog strategies and tactics that used to work are no longer enough. But building a successful digital marketing plan often feels like gazing up at a star field and picking points of light to see the constellation. The picture is not obvious.

CAN SERVICE PROS OVER 40 SUCCEED IN DIGITAL?

YOU DON’T NEED TO BE A DIGERATI TO MASTER DIGITAL MARKETING

I overheard a conversation the other day between two service professionals who are over 40 years of age. One said: “I don’t get why young people always have to be on their cell phones. They even walk down the street with their eyes glued to those screens. The real world is passing them by.”

The other professional, maybe a little older and a little wiser said: “They’re not missing the real world. They’re just in a different real world from you and me.” Maybe you know the feeling? The world of the digerati is a conundrum to people who didn’t grow up with all of these connected devices.

DO YOUR USERS EXPERIENCE CONTENT REGRET?

HOW CONTENT MARKETERS CAN DELIVER A BETTER EXPERIENCE

Have you ever had content regret? This occurs when you are enticed by a promise of what a piece of content will do for you – like an e-book, or a webinar or a white paper or even a set of videos. But once you actually register, you feel duped. You feel as if the content creator was far more interested in getting your contact information than in actually fulfilling the content promise. It’s worse when the content creator starts to incessantly email and call you.

CONTENT REGISTRATIONS ARE NOT ENOUGH

WHY MARKETING MUST STIMULATE LEANING-IN BEHAVIOR

I was reading a blog post the other day that purported to give advice to B2B leaders about how to accomplish their goals. Like most content these days, it offered 3 simple steps. One of those steps included offering an e-book as a door opener to get registrations and start a business relationship with a prospect.

But then the post made this audacious claim. It said that the e-book does not need to be particularly well-written because most people won’t read it. I was shocked, but then again, I wasn’t. I’ve come to expect this these days.

IS YOUR WEBSITE OPEN FOR BUSINESS

WHAT MESSAGES ARE YOU SENDING?

Shopkeepers on main street use a simple practice to let people know they’re open for business. There’s usually a sign or some bright neon that says “come on in, we’re open.” This is how retail operators get traffic down their aisles, eyes on goods and customers at their registers.

But is there such a sign for B2B companies? In today’s digital world, our websites are open 24 hours a day. Or are they? Is an always-on website the equivalent of a main street sign? Do our websites send a message that says, in so many words, we are open for business and would like you to view our wares? Or do our websites send a different message?

HOW TO BUILD A GREAT DIGITAL MARKETING PLAN

THE STRATEGIES YOU SHOULD CONSIDER

A lot of professional service firms today are trying to figure out the best way to use digital marketing effectively. Many organizations are struggling because of the range of options that digital marketing presents. This can feel entirely overwhelming, especially since most small marketing teams at service firms simply cannot do everything.

DIGITAL MARKETING PERFECT FOR COMPLEX SALES – PART 2

THREE STRATEGIES TO ACCELERATE YOUR SUCCESS

In my last post on this topic, I made a bold claim. I stated that if you use digital marketing effectively, you will be a more productive company with higher profit margins from the exact same set of people. This is the game-changing opportunity that digital marketing offers us today.

But this raises an important question. How can you know that you are using digital marketing effectively? Most service-based organizations today are deploying some combination of analog and digital marketing strategies. Yet very few are realizing the outcomes of greater productivity and profitability from the same staff. If anything, their expenses are going up while their profits are shrinking or holding steady. What’s the secret to better profits and productivity from digital marketing?

DIGITAL MARKETING IS PERFECT FOR THE COMPLEX SALE

HOW IT CREATES SELF-PERSUADING PROSPECTS

Professional service clients, in the age of digital, do not want to be sold. They want to buy. They see themselves in the driver’s seat of the entire process. They choose when, where, by what channels and for how long they engage. They disengage whenever they want. They choose to enter dialogue when they are ready. They are fickle, unpredictable and impossible to control.

THE VALUE OF AN IDEA DRIVEN WEBSITE

WHY THEY BEAT ONLINE BROCHURES EVERY TIME

In today’s competitive professional services landscape, websites are more important than ever. New clients will take most of their in-bound journey on your website. You make your brand, services and value proposition distinct and clear through your website.

You differentiate from competitors, in large part, through your website. Or do you? Is this even possible? Why is it that so many professional services websites seem to be so similar that prospects can hardly tell them apart?

A NEW WEBSITE WON’T BRING YOU NEW CLIENTS

WHY YOU MUST STIMULATE THE DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM

I was speaking with a prospective new client the other day and he told me this sad story. He and his marketing team had built a great looking new website. They spent months choosing the right platform, writing new copy, selecting images and building all of the webpages. They had a grand opening and sent out an email to their list. And the results were… Ho-hum.

DO YOU “GET” DIGITAL MARKETING? – PART 2

HACKS, CHEATS AND TRICKS ARE NOT DIGITAL MARKETING

There is a great deal of confusion today about what digital marketing means. In my last post on this topic, I showed how digital marketing is a lot like analog marketing. I noted how a speaker at a conference could use certain thought processes to produce a compelling presentation for their audience. Those same thoughts processes could be applied to an online article, especially if it is published in a specific channel in LinkedIn.

DO YOU GET DIGITAL MARKETING?

HOW THIS STRATEGY EMPOWERS SERVICE FIRM GROWTH

Service firms acquired clients, in the past, primarily through referrals. When a service provider did a really good job, their satisfied clients would recommend them to other people. But this wasn’t the only strategy that used to, and still does, work.

WHO BENEFITS FROM YOUR CONTENT?

HOW INSIGHTS BUILD TRUST AND AFFINITY

I read quite a few blog posts each week. I also attend webinars, download e-books, read white papers and research reports and watch videos. You might think I’m a content marketing junkie. You might be right. But really, I’m looking for the best of the best.

LEAD NURTURING VERSUS CONTENT MARKETING

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE AND HOW WILL THIS BENEFIT YOU?

A lot of people use the terms lead nurturing and content marketing interchangeably. I prefer not to do this and I’ll admit that my distinction is somewhat artificial. It doesn’t really matter what you call these two strategies because a rose is still a rose by any other name. What does matter, however, is that you have clearly delineated between the two strategies and that your approach to using content offers two options: a shallow swim and a deep dive. If you get these two strategies right, your sales and business development people will never try to talk to someone who isn’t ready and they’ll never miss an opportunity to talk to someone who is ready. Let’s explore how to do this.

YOUR BEST NEW CLIENT IS LOOKING FOR YOU

ARE YOU GIVING THEM A REASON TO FIND YOU IN THE DIGITAL ECOSYSTEM?

Many leaders of small to medium-sized professional service firms believe there are hundreds, thousands or maybe even hundreds of thousands of great new prospective clients out there. But these service firm leaders often struggle to find the prospects and pull them into dialogue.

MAKE YOUR WEBSITE A NEW CLIENT DRIVER

HOW TO PULL PROSPECTS ALONG THE IN-BOUND JOURNEY

In my last post on this topic, I built the business case for why you need ideal client profiles (ICP). There are so many benefits that come from attracting and serving ideal clients. But this probably raises an important question in your mind. How do you build an ideal client profile? What is the process? Well, I have some good news for you. We are going to do that, together, right now.

WHY SERVICE FIRMS SHOULD FOCUS ON IDEAL CLIENTS– PART 3

HERE IS HOW YOU BUILD AN IDEAL CLIENT PROFILE

In my last post on this topic, I built the business case for why you need ideal client profiles (ICP). There are so many benefits that come from attracting and serving ideal clients. But this probably raises an important question in your mind. How do you build an ideal client profile? What is the process? Well, I have some good news for you. We are going to do that, together, right now.

WHY SERVICE FIRMS SHOULD FOCUS ON IDEAL CLIENTS– PART 2

THE BENEFITS YOU CAN REALIZE FROM WORKING WITH IDEAL CLIENTS

In my last post on the topic of ideal clients, I identified the seven qualities that make ideal clients ideal.
In this post, I want to highlight the benefits that come from focusing on ideal clients. When service firms have an abundance of ideal clients, amazing things happen. Let’s explore this together.

WHY SERVICE FIRMS SHOULD FOCUS ON IDEAL CLIENTS– PART 1

Client acquisition tends to be a top goal for nearly every professional service firm. A growth orientation can sometimes cause service firms to take on clients who may not be ideal. I would argue that this is not a wise path to take. When service firms work primarily with ideal clients, a few very powerful things start to happen. Here is what I have witnessed.

HOW TO GET THE GREATEST VALUE FROM CONTENT MARKETING

ALIGN YOUR CONTENT TACTICS WITH YOUR GOALS

What would you think of a farmer who planted and nurtured crops, but never harvested them? What would you think of a farmer who never planted or nurtured crops, but showed up in the fall with pitchfork in hand, ready to harvest? You might think both of these farmers are a bit loopy. Right?

WHY YOU SHOULD ABSOLUTELY GIVE AWAY YOUR BEST IDEAS

LESSONS LEARNED FROM BENJAMIN FRANKLIN

Benjamin Franklin gave away some of his best inventions and ideas. He published them in his newsletters for free. They were distributed to most of New England. While other people were attempting to commercialize and control intellectual property through patents, Franklin openly shared his ideas with everyone.

DO THIS TO FILL YOUR SALES FUNNEL

THE ROUTE TO CONSISTENT AND PREDICTABLE GROWTH

Many professional services firms struggle with the feast-or-famine phenomenon. They either have too many projects and not enough hours in the day or way too much time on their hands. This makes it very difficult to plan for the future and build a reliable operations plan for people, processes and technology.

WHAT YOU MUST DO TO ACQUIRE NEW CLIENTS

CONVERT THE DIGITAL RELATIONSHIP TO ANALOG

In days gone by, most professional service firms would start their new client relationships in the analog world. We used to produce conferences and events, hold seminars and shake hands at tradeshows. Even our non-in-person promotions were analog. We would print advertisements and newsletters to mail to people with a real, honest-to-goodness, U.S. Postal Service stamp. Sounds funny now, doesn’t it? Oh, the good ol’ days.

AN AUDIENCE OF ONE

HOW TO CONNECT DEEPLY WITH DECISION-MAKERS

As marketing people we have been duped. We have come to believe in a lie that distorts all of our messages and causes us to miss the mark with the very people we want to connect with. Marketing programs at major universities and well-established principles of advertising have participated in our undoing. Frequency, recency, reach: this is the language of marketing and it is ineffective.

HOW TO ATTRACT NEW IDEAL CLIENTS

WHAT STEPS SHOULD YOU BE TAKING?

Client acquisition tends to be a top goal for nearly every professional service firm. You might be enticed to take on clients who are not a great fit. My advice? Don’t do it.

Instead, focus on those kinds of clients where you and your company can have the greatest impact. The payoff to you and your clients will be huge. Here is my advice about how to position for and attract new ideal clients.

ARE YOU A CONTENT MARKETER OR A THOUGHT LEADER?

THE DIFFERENCE COULD BE IN YOUR BOTTOM LINE

A few years ago I was consulting with an IT enterprise architecture firm. We began by conducting qualitative and quantitative research for this company. I secured an interview with the CIO from one of the big three credit reporting agencies. Sitting down with this very sharp gentleman, I asked him what he looks for in an IT consulting firm.

CONSIDER THE SOURCE: THEORIST OR PRACTITIONER

WHICH WOULD YOU BANK YOUR CAREER ON?

A lot of people are producing content these days. As an English Literature major, I am pleased to see that my writing colleagues have gone from under-appreciated to having a dearth of opportunities. But with so many people producing content, you have to wonder about something. Where do the ideas come from and what is the quality of these ideas?

WHY PAIN POINTS ARE NOT ENOUGH

FOCUS ON GOALS TO INCREASE ODDS OF SUCCESS

Lately I’ve noticed that a lot of service organizations are focusing on pain points. This is usually evident when I visit their website. There will sometimes be buttons in primary navigation that say something like – Your Pain Points or Challenges We Address. Now there’s nothing wrong with this approach. But I really do believe it’s incomplete.

HOW TO NURTURE IDEAL PROSPECTS

WHY THIS IMPACTS CLIENT ACQUISITION

My father used to say something that has stuck with me for many years. “Randy nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is wise advice from a man who did not finish high school and never spent a day in a college class-room.

QUICK OR DEEP CONTENT: WHICH IS BETTER FOR PROFESSIONAL SERVICE FIRMS?

IS IT TIME TO DUMB-DOWN YOUR CONTENT?

Content marketing is an incredibly hot topic right now with virtually every company on the planet. This is especially true for B2B and professional service organizations for whom traditional mass-media, such as television, radio and newsprint formats, are out of reach either because of budgets or because of targeting.

WHY I’VE LOST FAITH IN QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH FOR COMPETITIVE BENCHMARKING

AND YOU SHOULD TOO

It seems pretty much every day now I see an email or post on LinkedIn that invites me to compare my marketing plan, budget or approach to “best-in-class” companies. I used to pay attention to these and even put some stock in them. In fact, I’ve built marketing plans in the past based in part by what these surveys say.

But no longer. I’ve lost faith in most quantitative research studies that provide competitive benchmarks. I think you should too. Here are my reasons.

MOST LEADS ARE NOT READY TO ENGAGE – BUT THEY WILL BE

THE POWER OF EMBRACING THE 95/5 RULE

Professional service marketing leaders often become frustrated when they look at the conversion rates of leads who have accessed their content. Here is what I mean. The marketing function will produce and provision all sorts of content in a given month. This might include blog-posts, infographics, articles, webinars and videos. Smart professional service organizations are using marketing automation tools now to track what happens with people who access this content.

OUR BLOG

LEADERSHIP

To Grow Your Professional Service Firm, Prize Culture Over Strategy
TP35: The One Tipping Point Mid-Size Service Firms Must Address To Keep Growing
Seven Reasons Most Mid-Size Service Firms Don’t Grow Very Much
Five Reasons Mid-Size Service Firms Need A New Leadership Operating Model
How Leaders Can Address The Growth Tipping Point For Mid-Sized Service Firms
Five Reasons Professional Service Leaders Should Prize EQ Over IQ
Why Mid-Size Service Firm Leadership Teams Need Collective Objectives To Grow
How To Grow Your Mid-Sized Service Firm: Jealously Protect Your Focused Energy
Why Professional Service Firms Should Consider Circle Of Seven Mentoring Networks
How A Leader’s Energy Field Impacts Team Productivity
Don’t Trade Misery For Money: How Professional Service Firms Can Leverage The Great Resignation
Strong Personality Vs. Strong Person: The Makeup Of A Leadership Council
Custer Or Marshall: Why Mid-Size Service Firms Must Choose Their Leadership Model
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Define And Defend Your Values
If You Want To Grow Your Mid-Size Service Firm, Establish A Formal Leadership Council
Want To Grow Your Professional Service Firm? Focus On The One
If You Want To Grow Your Midsize Professional Service Firm, Align Your Leaders
Why Midsize Service Firm Leaders Must Think Like Entrepreneurs To Grow
How To Grow A Mid-Size Professional Service Firm Today
Why It's Important For Great Leaders To Tell Great Stories
How Great Leaders Persuade Using Word-Pictures
How The Say-Do Ratio Influences Trusted Advisor Status And Profits
Why Service Firm Leaders Should Nurture The Entrepreneurial Instincts Of Their Top People

SALES

Five Strategies For Midsize Service Firms To Break Through Revenue Plateaus
How Pro Service Firms Can Fix The ‘Drop Everything — Chase Money’ Problem
Prospect, Originate, Navigate: How To Fill Your Professional Service Pipeline
To Grow Your Mid-Size Professional Service Firm, Think Carefully About Your Promise
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 7
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 6
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 5
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 4
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 3
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 2
How To Sell Professional Services Today – Part 1
How Mid-Size Service Firms Can Acquire Great New Clients On LinkedIn
Five Ways The Consultative Sale Improves Profits
How To Win The Complex Service Sale Consistently
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
How To Break The Grip Of Rainmaker Culture
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
How To Know When Prospects Are Ready
How To Pull Prospects Into Conversations
Nurture Organic Relationships Online
How To Build Relationships With Jaded Prospects
Do Prospects Want To Buy Or Be Sold?
Close Deals Faster Using Proof Statements
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?
Most Leads Are Not Ready To Engage – But They Will Be

MARKETING

How To Market Managed Services - Part 3
How To Market Managed Services - Part 2
How To Market Managed Services Today – Part 1
Why Service Firms Need A Multichannel Digital Marketing Strategy
Does Your Website Attract Ideal Clients?
Why Service Firms Need The Ultimate Digital Marketing Stack
The Myth Of The Time-Starved Service Buyer
Do You Choose Clients Or Do They Choose You?
How To Market & Sell Professional Services Today
Why You Need A Generous Brand
How Content Impacts The Service Sale
Are You Measuring Your Time Funnel?
How To Get Mindshare With Busy Decision-Makers
How To Get Great Prospects Leaning In
How Digital Marketing Creates Sales Funnel Velocity
Five Digital Marketing KPIs
Can Service Pros Over 40 Succeed In Digital?
Do Your Users Experience Content Regret?
Content Registrations Are Not Enough
Is Your Website Open For Business
How To Build A Great Digital Marketing Plan
Digital Marketing Perfect For Complex Sales – Part 2
Digital Marketing Is Perfect For The Complex Sale
The Value Of An Idea Driven Website
A New Website Won’t Bring You New Clients
Do You “Get” Digital Marketing? – Part 2
Do You Get Digital Marketing?
Who Benefits From Your Content?
Lead Nurturing Versus Content Marketing
Your Best New Client Is Looking For You
Make Your Website A New Client Driver
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 3
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 2
Why Service Firms Should Focus On Ideal Clients– Part 1
How To Get The Greatest Value From Content Marketing
Why You Should Absolutely Give Away Your Best Ideas
Do This to Fill Your Sales Funnel
What You Must Do To Acquire New Clients
An Audience Of One
How to Attract New Ideal Clients
Are You A Content Marketer Or A Thought Leader?
Consider The Source: Theorist Or Practitioner
Why Pain Points Are Not Enough
How To Nurture Ideal Prospects
Quick Or Deep Content: Which Is Better For Professional Service Firms?